Higher Education Briefs: FESHE and TRADE Conferences Merge

The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), which for more than a decade has hosted the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) Professional Development Conference and the Training Resources and Data Exchange (TRADE) Conference, is now merging the two conferences. The combined conference becomes the National Professional Development Symposium (NPDS). Representatives from fire-related degree programs, state and local fire service training agencies, state training directors and national fire service organizations now have a place to examine many of the trends in the fire service that are common to both.

The NPDS is a result of collaboration of both initiatives. While the focus is on career enhancement for emergency responders, the conference promises to not diminish responsibilities of either entity. Instead, the NPDS honors the commitment of both initiatives by providing a forum for training and education workshops, professional development matrix discussions, succession planning and national professional development standards recommendations.

“I believe that the collaboration between TRADE, FESHE and our professional designators can only improve our nation’s emergency responders’ ability to safely and more competently react to the all-hazards responses mandated by the people we serve,” said Mike McCabe, a USFA education program specialist and one of the symposium creators. “Our comprehensive work to standardize education, keeping in mind the needs of training and the criteria set by NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) and CPSE (Center for Public Safety Excellence), is defining the face of professional development for both paid and career responders. We react to what we perceive (situational awareness) based on our experience, training and education. Not just one or the other but all three play an important role in our ability to competently respond when needed. So it only makes sense that we incorporate all three within the paradigm of “professional development.” The combined symposium also strengthens lines of communication and reduces costs by better allocating resources, McCabe said.

The symposium takes place from May 27 through June 1, 2013, and includes pre-conference classes. It will be held on the campus of the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, MD. May 1 is the deadline for registering. For additional information, email FEMA-FESHE@fema.dhs.gov or contact the Admissions Office at (301) 447-1035 with enrollment questions.

—Paul Snodgrass


EKU Offers Online Degree

In Fire Investigation

A first-of-its-kind online bachelor of science degree program in Fire, Arson and Explosion Investigation opens this fall at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). The online degree program mirrors the campus-based program and gives students an opportunity to earn an accredited degree taught by experts in the field.

“As a fire investigator, you want to have solid credentials and be recognized as a true expert in the evolving field of fire science so that you can report your findings and testify in court with confidence,” said Jim Pharr, chair and associate professor in the department of Safety, Security and Emergency Management. The new online program, which will result in the same EKU degree, is especially valuable to working professionals in the field who are seeking career advancement, Pharr says. “Our online format allows students to study with leading professionals in the field, get regular feedback from those instructors and even get hands-on lab experience.”

An integral part of the curriculum features two weeks at the EKU Fire Labs on the Richmond, KY, campus where courses will focus on conducting fire origin and cause investigations, investigating explosion scenes and examining devices and products to determine failure modes.

Faculty teaching in the new online program include Pharr, a 30-year fire service veteran who served as a firefighter, investigator, fire chief and emergency management director before becoming an educator; and Tom Thurman, a former FBI special agent who investigated the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, as well as the bombings of the Oklahoma City federal building and the World Trade Center towers. Many of the EKU faculty members are certified fire and explosion investigators who are still actively involved in the field. In addition to authoring the industry’s top textbooks, they hold various leadership positions within the profession, including membership on the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1033 Technical Committee, which writes the “Standard for Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator.”

Those who apply by July 13 can start classes in Fall 2013. For more information, visit www.eku.edu/firehouse.

—Paul Snodgrass